For investors, Fed stimulus has trumped all other factors. It has lowered risk premia and inflated asset prices. The gig is soon up, but investors have yet to adequately adjust. Unfortunately, they will attempt to do so with significantly compromised market liquidity. The path to normalization is made even more challenging, because Japan and Europe are in recession, and China is slowing.
Beneath the surface wealth of bullet trains, cute robots and exuberant fashions, this is the Japan few outsiders understand: the one gripped by a deepening social depression. Japan is the global bellwether in social depression, and we can already see the same symptoms and official panic to mask these symptoms in Europe, China and the U.S.
- Apple CEO Cook Goes From Record Sales to IPhone Stumbles (BBG)
- Deal With Saudis Paved Way for Syrian Airstrikes (WSJ)
- Drone delivery: DHL 'parcelcopter' flies to German isle (Reuters)
- Tory Burch Hires Ralph Lauren Veteran as Co-CEO (WSJ)
- Apple releases iOS 8 workaround to fix dropped cell service (Reuters)
- Ukraine Probes Ex-Minister Over $3 Billion Russian Bond (BBG)
- Goldman Sachs-Led Group Near Deal to Buy Messaging Startup Perzo (WSJ)
- U.K. Seeks to Criminalize Manipulation of 7 Benchmarks (BBG)
The US economy and financial system are in worse condition than the Fed and Treasury claim and the financial media reports. Gold serves as a warning for aware people that financial and economic trouble are brewing. In the 21st century, US debt and money creation has not been matched by an increase in real goods and services. The implication of this mismatch is inflation. Without the price-rigging by the bullion banks, gold and silver would be reflecting these inflation expectations.
Having infamously "thrown in the bearish towel" late last year (must read), Hugh Hendry's Eclectica fund has not enjoyed the kind of money-printing melt-up euphoria he had hoped for in 2014. According to his August letter to investors, the fund is -10.9% year-to-date, shrinking the firm's performance since inception to a mere +0.7%. His positions are intriguing but his commentary can be summed with this sentence alone, "when central banks are actively pursuing a goal of higher prices the most rational course is to tenaciously remain invested in equities." And so he is...
Having totally killed the Japanese government bond market, Shinzo Abe has - unlike the much less transparent Federal Reserve, who allegedly use their proxy Citadel - gone full tilt into buying Japanese stocks (via ETFs). In May, we noted the BoJ's aggressive buying as the Nikkei dropped, and in June we pointed out the BoJ's plan tobuy Nikkei-400 ETFs and so, as Nikkei news reports, it is hardly surprising that the Bank of Japan bought a record JPY 123.6 billion worth of ETFs in August. The market 'knows' that the BoJ tends to buy JPY10-20 billion ETFs when stock prices fall in the morning. The BoJ now holds 1.5% of the entire Japanese equity market cap (or roughly JPY 480 trillion worth) and is set to surpass Nippon Life as the largest individual holder of Japanese stocks. And, since even record BoJ buying was not enough to do the job, Abe has now placed GPIF reform (i.e. legislating that Japan's pension fund buys stocks in much greater size) as a primary goal for his administration. The farce is almost complete as the Japanese ponzi teeters on the brink.
- A Month of Bombs Dropped in One Night of Strikes on Syria (BBG)
- Air strikes in Syria hit Islamic State-held areas near Turkey (Reuters)
- Pimco ETF Draws Probe by SEC (WSJ)
- Shadowy al Qaeda cell, hit by U.S. in Syria, seen as 'imminent' threat (Reuters)
- Yellen Warns on Market Calm Before ‘Considerable Time’ Up (BBG)
- Dudley Says Fed Needs U.S. Economy to Run ‘A Little Hot' (BBG)
- Websites Are Wary of Facebook Tracking Software (WSJ)
- Just a joke now: Barclays Fined Twice in One Day for Compliance Failures (BBG)
- Fired UPS worker kills two supervisors, self, in Alabama shooting (Reuters)
If yesterday the bombardment, no pun intended, of bad news from around the globe was too much even for Mahwah's vacuum tubes to spin as bullish - for stocks - news, then tonight's macro economic updates have so far been hardly as bombastic, with the only real news of the day has Germany's IFO Business Climate reading, which dropped from 106.3 to 105.8, declining for the 5th month in a row, missing expectations, and printing at the lowest level of since April 2013! (More from Goldman below) Net result: Bunds yields were once again pushed in the sub-1% category, even if stocks today are higher because the European data is "so bad it means the ECB has no choice but to do (public instead of just private) QE" blah blah blah.
The ECB again cut the interest rates it controls, deeper into negative territory. It says it’s trying to nudge prices higher, but it’s actually feeding the cancer of falling interest.
Oil and other commodity prices have recently been dropping. Is this good news, or bad? Many people have the impression that falling oil prices mean that the cost of production is falling, and thus that the feared "peak oil" is far in the distance. This is not the correct interpretation, especially when many types of commodities are decreasing in price at the same time. We would argue that falling commodity prices are bad news. It likely means that the debt bubble which has been holding up the world economy for a very long time – since World War II, at least – is failing to expand sufficiently. If the debt bubble collapses, we will be in huge difficulty.
Behold Obama’s dream project – a global infrastructure fund. This idea was floated and endorsed at The G-20 in Cairns this weekend. “We have agreed to come away from government-financed growth measures to more private investment,” said Australia’s Finance Minister Joe Hockey. These are being called Public Private Partnerships (PPP), and will be extremely critical in the future for here lies the final destruction of the pension funds precisely as Japan bankrupted the Japanese Postal Saving Fund using that private money for political purposes to try to stimulate the economy, which failed. With PPP, public funds will be sold to the public as being a highly professional long-term investment that will further shrink economic growth and liquidity. They cannot possibly work.
So with regards to BABA’s $230 billion market cap at week’s end, you can say this: None dare call it price discovery! What it shows is that Wall Street is well and truly off it rocker. The Chinese swindlers behind BABA didn’t even have to tap their home market. These preposterously over-valued shares were sold overwhelmingly to Wall Street - to the gamblers, speculators and robo-traders that have occupied what was once a reasonably honest capital market. So why did Wall Street capitalize an opaque mass merchant operating in a precarious economy at 27X sales? The answer is that Wall Street is a momentum driven casino that is now over-valuing everything that moves and all that stands still. That’s the ultimate evil of monetary central planning. Having destroyed honest price discovery in the financial markets, the Fed now “accommodates” the speculators one meeting at a time - in deathly fear of a hissy fit.
Which incidentally has nothing to do with stocks or bonds, and everything to do with all-important FX. To wit: "If a clear break in the yen downwards against both the dollar and euro is occurring, not only will this spell trouble for the beleaguered Chinese economy and exacerbate deflation in the west, but it will also break the spell of German economic dominance"
With the snoozer of an FOMC meeting in the rearview mirror, as well as Scotland's predetermined independence referndum, last week's key events: the BABA IPO and the iPhone 6 release, are now history, which means the near-term catalysts are gone and the coming week will be far more relaxed, if hardly boring. Here is what to expect.
We, like Bloomberg's Richard Breslow, were bemused this weekend by the communiques from the wisest men in the room at the G-20 meeting. On one side of their mouths they warned of "excessive risk-taking," in markets noting that there were "mounting economic risks" also. On the other hand, stories continue to print of US equity strength implying optimism over global growth - despite the ongoing collapse in consensus GDP expectations. However, away from this hope and fear, it was the almost coordinated responses of the PBOC (Chinese Finmin Lou Jiwei signaling not to get carried away with stimulus expectations), ECB (Visco saying may not need additional QE step since EUR had dropped 'enough'), and finally the BOJ (Iwata saying Abenomics misunderstood, USDJPY 90-100 'fair); all dashing market expectations of a smooth hand over from a feckless Fed to a free-printing rest-of-the-world. Stocks (and carry) responded by selling off.